These four file sharing apps offer speed, security and more

file sharing apps primary
Credit: Image: Rob Schultz

Gone are the days when you relied on one computer to get all of your work done. Also gone? The days when you shared information with people on paper. Today, it’s all digital. Whether you need to get information synced across multiple devices or simply want to share files with friends and family, there’s an app that can help.

Send Anywhere

send anywhere

Send Anywhere locates nearby devices for sharing files.

Send Anywhere is designed to add a bit of security to file sharing. This free app lets you share files directly, device to device, without relying on a cloud service for storage. Send Anywhere works on almost any device you can think of, with apps available for Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac (beta), Windows 8, Windows Phone, and the Web. A Linux version is in the works, too.

To use Send Anywhere, you simply select the files you want to send, add them to your sending list, and select the device with which you’d like to share them. You’ll receive a 6-digit key, which you then enter on the receiving device, and the files will automatically be downloaded.

If a device is nearby, Send Anywhere is supposed to recognize it for you, giving you the option to send files to it with just a click of a button—no code required. This feature didn’t work reliably in my testing, likely due to the permissions on the iOS device I used for testing, but that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.

Send Anywhere boosts security by allowing recipients to view the files you’ve sent for only 10 minutes; after that, they disappear. I can see how this would be useful for some types of files, but I was using Send Anywhere to share files I wanted to keep on another device, so I didn’t like the fact that they disappeared from the app so quickly. You can get around this by saving the file to your device as soon as it’s received—then you’ll have it even when it’s gone from Send Anywhere’s list.

iFiles

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iFiles creates a folder structure for storing content on your iOS device.

iFiles bills itself as a file manager, viewer, editor and more. Part of that 'more' includes sharing features that aren’t as streamlined as those offered by Send Anywhere, but will likely prove very useful nonetheless.

iFiles is, at its heart, a file manager for your iOS device. It creates a system of folders to which you can easily add files so they’re all collected in one place. Desktop computer users who have bemoaned the lack of folder-based storage system on iOS will appreciate this feature alone.

To justify its $3.99 price tag, however, iFiles has to do more—and it does. Its sharing features allow you to transfer files directly from your desktop computer using a secure Web link. Enter it in your browser and you can access the same iFiles folder system you’ll see on your portable device. From your computer, you can easily send files to folders on iFiles, or transfer files over to your PC. The transfer process can be slow, and the Web version doesn’t have the same document viewer features that you’ll find on the iOS app, which allows you to view photos, documents, PDFs, and more within the app.

iFiles also lets you share files directly with other mobile devices over Bluetooth, and it allows you to send files via email from within the app. In addition, it connects with a host of cloud services, including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more.

If you’re looking for a service that offers fast file transfers, iFiles isn’t the best option for you. But if you need a full-featured file manager with some handy file sharing features, this app is worth a look.

4Shared

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4Shared’s free version displays ads, which is a minor annoyance.

4Shared serves as a cloud-based storage drive for your digital content. But it’s a storage service with a strong focus on sharing, and one that includes the ability to make those files available for public search, should you so desire.

To use 4Shared, you simply sign up for an account and you’re good to go. The free version limits you to 15GB of space, with a maximum file size of 2048 MB. Opting for the $10-per-month Premium version ups both of those limits to 100GB, and removes the ads that support the free version. The ads aren’t terribly intrusive, and they are small, but the ones I saw were often moving and flashing just enough to annoy me.

If you can move past that flaw, you’ll find that 4Shared offers some great tools for sharing your files with colleagues, friends, and family members. Like iFiles, 4Shared creates a folder system for you—which you can customize to fit your needs – and lets you upload the files you’d like to share. You can set permissions for each folder, allowing its content to be shared or remain private. You also can set passwords and determine whether users see all of the files or only certain ones. You friends don’t have to be 4Shared users to view your content, though they will be strongly encouraged to sign up as they navigate the site. Once they register, they can download the files you’ve shared.

This makes 4Shared an easy way to get your own content on multiple devices. The free Android and iOS apps let you view files on your mobile devices, and allow you to play audio and video back within the apps. In fact, 4Shared really shines when sharing audio and video content, as it lets you play those files back in the Web-based version, too, and includes a link you can use to embed the files on Web sites you operate.

RapidShare

rapidshare

RapidShare’s design is attractive and its drag-and-drop tool for sharing is nice.

I was intrigued as soon as I heard the name RapidShare. After suffering through slow file transfers on some of the services I tested, I thought this one, for sure, would be different. And, from the start, I realized that it is. First off, it’s prohibitively expensive, with the most inexpensive account, the 300GB Standard Plus, costing 49.99 Euros – that’s almost $63 at the current exchange rate. And that’s for one month’s access. Yes, RapidShare charges you almost $63 a month.

So, what do you get for that fee? Not a mobile app – RapidShare is Web-based, so all of the sharing is done from within your browser. Its interface is slick and attractive, but not really designed for use on a small screen. You can use it via Safari on your iPad, but it’s not the best experience. 

RapidShare’s sharing features are centered around email and social, which was a little disappointing after testing apps that let you connect to nearby devices.  I was really hoping RapidShare would offer super-speedy file sharing to make up for this, so I tested it out with a sizable video file. The file did upload relatively quickly, and it was easy enough to set up sharing using the nifty drag-and-drop feature. Once you do so, RapidShare creates a link you can share via email or Facebook, and will send it from within the app.

Recipients don’t have to be RapidShare users to download shared files, and files did download very quickly. But that isn’t enough to justify RapidShare’s steep price tag. This app is geared toward professionals looking to share sizable files with a wide audience. Anyone else will likely have little reason to fork over the big bucks it requires.

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